The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter, June 17 2011 PDF Print E-mail
The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter - The Business of Show Institute

Dear Friend,

Today we're going to talk about the fears and doubts that plague ALL screenwriters - and more importantly - how YOU can overcome them!

First, a short story...

One of the screenwriters I do business with deals with his fears and doubts about himself and his work in a very unique way.

It may serve as a potential tool for you.

So here it is:

First, it should be noted that he's fully aware that he's naturally a pessimistic person.

He actually does believe the sky is falling and that some day someone will discover he's a fraud… that's he's really not talented.

Of course, this is completely untrue.

But in order to address his fears and doubts he devised the following routine.

A timer sits on his desk which rings at ten minutes to the hour.

For those ten minutes he steps away from his laptop and allows himself to vent all of the doubt, all of the fear and all of the frustrations he's feeling.

For those ten minutes he imagines the worst possible scenarios that could ever occur in his life and stews in anguish for those 600 painful seconds.

However, at the end of the ten minutes he takes a deep breath, shakes it off, and returns to his writing.

That's one way you can proactively address your fears.

Here are some others:

  • Be crystal clear as to what you desire - have VISION & PURPOSE. If you don't know where you are going, how can you get there?

  • Declare your vision in written form and then share it with others. Let people know what you want.

  • Take small baby steps. You have heard it before... The Great Wall of China began with one brick.

  • Be flexible/adaptable - It's really simple: Is the current plan working or not working?

  • Reward yourself for the small and big improvements. You sent out 50 queries this week. You attended one networking event. You completed a new script. Developed a new idea.

    Rewarding yourself is crucial. Sometimes we get so caught up looking up (at where we want to be or what we want to have) that we never look down — and acknowledge how far we have gone or what we already have.

Make that call.

Attend that event.

Ask for what you want.

Step outside of what you know to be comfortable.

To make your dream come true you must be willing to accept that you can not please everyone.

  • Everyone will not like you.

  • Everyone will not like your work.

  • Everyone will not be supportive.

  • Everyone will not help.

  • And more importantly, know that everyone – and I mean EVERYONE - experiences fear.

But, only some allow it to imprison them.

What separates successful people from unsuccessful people is that successful people feel the fear then leap anyways.

Because as John Burroughs so eloquently said, "Leap, and the net will appear."

And only THEN will you be in a position to accept the success you desire and deserve.

And speaking of screenwriting success, here's what we've got for you in this week's action-packed Screenwriter's Success Newsletter!

The Business of Show Institute Recommends: is the weekly screenwriting product or service that our staff has personally reviewed and feel you would benefit from. This week? Free video reveals the #1 secret to getting your screenplay read by top Hollywood professionals... even if you don't live in Los Angeles!

Check it out here:

http://screenwritingsuccessnow.com/bosi/

A Screenwriter's Most Important Questions... Answered! (Part 4): is this week's article by yours truly. In this piece I address some of the most frequently asked questions that plague screenwriters. You may find that YOUR most pressing question is asked... and answered... here...

The Box Office Report: gives you the latest feature film releases as well as the opening weekend projections, so you can be on top of this critical information.

3: Pitch Black Release: is this week's article by mc foley. mc is an active writer and regular contributor to this newsletter. The title of her column is "Lessons Learned: One Writer's Journey".

A Legal Perspective for Screenwriters: is our column by entertainment attorney Gordon P. Firemark. To ask your legal questions, email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . If your question is chosen, it (and your answer) will appear in an issue of The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter.

Just Give Them What They Ask For: is this week's article from Director of Development for Clifford Werber Productions, Daniel Manus. The title of his column is "No B.S. for Screenwriters - The Executive Perspective."

Best Business Advice for Screenwriters: is dedicated to asking a top executive or successful screenwriter the absolute best advice they could give a screenwriter looking for success. This week's contributor? Literary Agent at Paradigm – Lucy Stille!

The Scoggins Report: is our bi-weekly/monthly spec market analysis. Use this information to see what's selling, who's buying what, and what genre you should be writing for. This information is pure gold...

Digging the Well Before You're Thirsty: is our column dedicated to tracking the promotions and movements of Hollywood's Executives. Use this market intelligence wisely...

Going To The Well For Inspiration: is this week's article from screenwriting contest judge and author of "39 Ways to Win a Screenwriting Contest & The Nine Mistakes New Writers Make" – Sean Hinchey. The title of his column is "Insights and Screenwriting Wisdom from a Veteran Screenwriting Contest Judge".

More Don'ts And A Harsh Reality...: is this week's article by our newest contributor, Manny Fonseca. Manny currently works for Kopelson Entertainment and frequently attends pitchfests on the Kopelson's behalf. The title of his column is "Confessions of a Hollywood Gatekeeper."

That's it for this issue, but we are dedicated to making this newsletter THE resource for aspiring screenwriters.

If you enjoyed it, and would like to pass it along to friends, please have them go directly to http://www.TheBusinessOfShowInstitute.com and have them sign up there.

May Your Life Be Extraordinary,

Marvin V. Acuna





The Business of Show Institute Recommends:

Free Video Reveals The #1 Secret To Getting Your Screenplay Read By Top Hollywood Professionals...
Even If You Don't Live In Los Angeles!

Click HERE!



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A Screenwriter's Most Important Questions... Answered! (Part 4)

by Marvin V. Acuna

Part 4 of the screenwriter questions series continues.

For obvious reasons I will be unable to address every question still sitting in the queue, but I was compelled to offer my thoughts to the following which were chosen completely at random. Here we go:


Do you feel that winning a reputable contest gives a writer an edge towards getting a good agent or production?
Michael Martin, named as Variety's Screenwriter to Watch in 2008, was living in Brooklyn, New York working as a flagger for the MTA. He placed second in a screenwriting competition. His submission, Brooklyn's Finest made its way into the hands of producers who packaged the film with Richard Gere and Ethan Hawke. Directed by Antoine Fuqua it was released theatrically March of 2010. Jessica Bendinger, a BOSI expert contributor, is hosting an incredible opportunity for screenwriters at http://tinyurl.com/y8r7eyz. I strongly encourage you to participate.


My writing partner and I are just finishing our latest. And we have an assortment of folks we can take it to. Some are extremely well-placed, others not so much. What is proper etiquette and sound strategy? Do we give the most influential folks "exclusivity" for some period to see if there's interest before moving down the list? Or do we "go wide" with everyone to improve our odds? I'm sure you appreciate the issues...even better than I do.
The spec market is so complex and ever changing. Timing, box-office results, elements, and studio mandates all play factors in how one chooses to introduce material to the market. I will say that affording anyone "exclusivity" can be effective if executed correctly. Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson, the writers and producers of "The Fighter" starring Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, and Amy Adams — due in theatres this year — as well as "Job" starring Will Smith, and I will be discussing the nature of this beast. Members be sure to tune in as part of the Shortcuts to Success: Meeting with the Masters Series on Friday, March 26, 2010 at 10am PST.


Isn't it better to be true to your own voice and write what you know in a genre you feel passionate about, than to concoct a story in a genre you dislike just to be considered saleable in today's industry?
I wrote a piece that I feel sums up my feelings on this question (http://tinyurl.com/yzkobyd). Sony's Senior EVP Sam Dickerman expressed his views on this subject as well. The video is archived in the member's area.


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The Box Office Report

Wed, Jun. 15DailyTotal
Super 8$3,370,194$48,052,544
X-Men: First Class$2,319,163$106,038,138
Kung Fu Panda 2$1,946,624$132,650,703
The Hangover Part II$1,631,707$221,317,031
Bridesmaids$1,314,900$127,921,210
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides$1,252,345$212,776,028
Judy Moody And The Not Bummer Summer$738,378$8,219,468
Thor$309,120$174,617,879
Fast Five$205,950$205,732,080


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Lessons Learned: One Writer's Journey

3: Pitch Black Release

by mc foley

...continued from last week's 2: GROW UP, HE SAID...

Popped awake at 8am. Stared at last night's tank top still drenched in sweat from the thick grinding crowd at one of the darkest spots in LA. Definitely the place to focus on dancing and not getting numbers on the prowl. Thank god for spots like that. This city needs them Places where you can't see you can only hear and touch and move. Move so much your entire outfit sticks to your body. See so little that it doesn't matter what anyone looks like it only matters that it feels good.

This city needs spots like that. It needs it like an animal needs food. Its citizens so caught up in the impossible dreams the networking the scripting the thinking and planning and strategy. This city needs to pound and burn and grind in a pitch black room where no one can hear anything but the music so there's no need to ask the typical questions, Where are you from? How long you been here? You an actor? A writer? An agent? Oh — my friend's on that show too, they looking for any assistants? PA's? Free slaves?

So many of those questions hiding so many of the thoughts, I'd do anything, anything — to get on that show. Hiding so much of the envy, How'd he land that? He looks like he's twelve years old and I've been struggling here for years. Nepotism. His father's probably a network exec.

Too much envy, too many typicals, too many thoughts. Too much pounding the pavement, pounding the freeway, pounding the head against the wall after another rejection, another unanswered email. Yes, this city needs the kind of grinding, pitch black release that swallowed me up last night. It needs it on a weekly basis. Release to let go the desperation and the up and down the this is the one! this is the script! this is the project! this time, I got it! this time, this time, this time, this...

This thought pollution that all of the people up the Sunset Plaza incline can simply float above and watch from their hillside perch. Not true, the brain reminds me. Some of the biggest houses are simply the bigger castles made of sand.

Time to get up, my body commands. Four hours of sleep is no excuse to let another day float by. Out my window, that screenwriter who lives one floor down and seven doors east is already walking up the sidewalk, his laptop case in hand. Striding ahead with purpose. Purpose to get to that one mom and pop cafe and hunker down in the best spot near the only outlet. For the rest of the morning, others will show up, wander around the room looking for somewhere to stick their plug, and see him there. Like he always is. Every damn day. A few silent glares will be exchanged, and soon enough, each of those not-as-early-risers will sit unenthusiastically in some other seat where there is no plug, and where their beat-up, gaffer-taped laptop will only last an hour, if that. Where they'll toss the two sentences they've just revised back into some documents folder and pack it up and move along and tell themselves they'll beat that selfish bastard to the coffee shop someday.

That's why I write at home, shrugs my brain. Well... mostly at home. There's also that semi-bar down the street where only one other writer has seemed to figure out that you can lounge for hours in the leather couches during the day, buy a coffee and hog one of several best seats by the windows, by the outlet where the DJs usually set up shop on party nights. Maybe it was time to head over there. I get a lot of revisions done in public places. It's the straight-up brainstorming on blank space that takes the most concentration.

A new text msg pops up on my phone. "Lost you last night — didn't have a chance to say goodbye." My friend, the pressed and popular one. Of course he didn't. He had the newest girl in tow. And ten minutes into the night, they'd settled down on a stool right next to the candles, just close enough so we could actually see them sticking out like two bright angels in the midst of that thumping darkness. I don't know if it was the alcohol or some real infatuation, but they were doing that thing. That — I've got my arms wrapped around your body, pulling you between my legs while you're caressing my face and nobody else exists in this place. Yeah, that thing that happens while all of us sit back like some carnival sideshow and watch and nobody interrupts. It's all just a part of the needed release the belief that there's more to a city of angels than hustle and network and pitch and audition and edit and mix and sign before sue before sign over contracts, connect with assistants and listen to closers that finish the deals on the phones while the paparazzi cockroaches roam up and down Robertson and stand in the middle of traffic on Santa Monica to catch Keanu Reeves on his motorcycle again.

"PS: found a new vodka at trader joes," my friend texts again. "10 bux less than the goose, and it goes down smooth!"

"sounds good man," I reply. Especially in response to the thirty percent lower price tag on good booze in this jacked LA economy. Clearly, my friend knows me. Knows I'd consider this breaking news.

"comes from texas," he adds, "made by hand."

Perfect, I think... For writers like me in the city of angels...

"hey," I type back, "I don't consider myself an alky"

But sometimes, an alky is what I am...


Functional in 2011,
-mc foley


About mc foley:
Melinda Corazon Foley was born in Cebu, Philippines, raised in Virginia and currently resides in West Hollywood, CA. In 2005, MC Foley was named East West Players' James Irvine Foundation Mentee affording her the privilege to craft a new original stage play, the result: "Down and Out." It debuted at the Union Center for the Arts. Foley was then awarded the Asian American Writers Workshop Scholarship, which she utilized to re-imagine the aforementioned play into a web based series incorporating verse, motion graphics and comic book illustrations. Recently Ms. Foley completed work on a debut YA novel, The Ice Hotel. The novel is a fantasy adventure written especially for readers experiencing the profound pain of loss. In the book, a family, reeling from their eldest son's death, escapes to the Ice Hotel, where an age-old, arctic magic connects this world to the next. The Ice Hotel is now available at Amazon. Order your copy here.

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A Legal Perspective for Screenwriters

by Gordon P. Firemark

Question:
"I'm sure this is the question that haunts all types of writers. Being a screenplay writer and having my idea and even some exact dialog stolen from me in the past, and working so diligently to create my very best work, I fear the obvious.

"My question is three-fold: 1) Exactly what is protected by the Writers Guild of America's registration; 2) How can a writer fully protect their property/their creation/their script; and 3) How can a writer even find out if his/her work has been used without permission?

"I keep accurate records of each and every production company I send to, but I found out by accidentally watching a certain television show that my script had been used about a year after the registration and copyright had run out.

"Of course, I even fear my idea being used, as some company names are vague or not included at all, and others just a generic craigslist email address. It's easy to suggest not to send your loglines and synopses to these recipients, but the lack of an agent or other representative limits a writer's options, and we are so anxious to get our work out there and discovered. I don't think I need to mention here the catch-22 regarding writers seeking agents before they are almost famous.

"Finally, I'd like to also include here that when I discovered that my script and idea had been partially used, the entertainment attorney's rates made it impossible for me, the unknown writer at the time, to pursue any legal action."

Answer:
I'll try to answer each part of your question in turn.

1. The Writer's Guild of America's registration doesn't, in itself, provide any legal protection. What it DOES do, is provide EVIDENCE. Specifically, it provides a system to prove WHEN a script existed in a particular form. Registration provides a dated record of the writer's claim to authorship of a particular literary material. If necessary a WGA employee may produce the material as evidence if legal or official Guild action is initiated. The Registry does not make comparisons of registration deposits, bestow any statutory protections, or give legal advice. Submitted material is not read by the Registry or other WGAW staff. For more about WGA registration, visit http://www.wgawregistry.org.

2. The best protection for a writer's work consists of three elements: (a) common sense, (b) copyright protection, and (c) a good paper trail.

Common sense means that you don't share your script with just anyone. Make sure you're dealing with reputable people and companies, and don't sign releases that give away your right to sue. In fact, don't sign anything unless you're sure you understand it completely. If you don't, talk to a lawyer.

Given the relative cost of WGA registration and Registration with the U.S. Copyright Office, I usually recommend copyright registration. Ultimately, you'll have to register the copyright before suing an infringer, and, since doing so early (within 90 days of first 'publication' of the work), entitles the registrant to an award of statutory damages and attorneys' fees, this is usually the best course of action. Registration can now be done online at http://copyright.gov. The cost is $35. In most cases, you won't need a lawyer to help with copyright registration, but contact one if you're not sure how to complete the form, etc. This is not to say WGA registration isn't useful... it's a valuable tool, and does provide the above-referenced testimony, etc. Also, getting the registration certificate back is very quick, while copyright registration can take many months. (Registration is effective from the date received by the office, but the certificate takes a while to be issued.)

A good paper trail means that you keep records of when, where and to whom you submit your material, notes of your conversations, copies of email correspondence, etc and of course your copyright and/or WGA registration paperwork. If your material IS stolen, you'll use this as evidence to prove your case.

3. Learning of infringements of your work is the big challenge. There's no simple answer. Keeping your eyes open for similar projects is the best solution. The good news is that, although there ARE statutes of limitations which restrict the time frame in which you can sue an infringer, most aren't triggered until the plaintiff KNEW or SHOULD HAVE KNOWN of the basis for the claim.

I should note that the question is a bit confused. Copyright protection does not 'run out' or expire until 70 years following the death of the author... so I presume we're talking about WGA registration, which, I believe, remains valid for 10 years. Another argument in favor of copyright registration.

The catch-22 is very real, I know, but idea theft is only possible because writers submit their material without knowing the details and reputations of the people to whom they submit, and/or sign releases that give away important legal rights. So again, don't submit blindly or to fly-by-night operations. Finding an agent is hard, but it's necessary. Just keep knocking on doors.

Finally, attorneys are highly-paid professionals, and our fees can be out-of-reach for some writers. That said, if your case is strong, there are attorneys who will represent you for a so-called 'contingent' fee (usually 30% to 40% of what's recovered). Also, as mentioned above, if you've done things right (e.g. registered your copyright early), the court may award your attorney's fees in addition to whatever damages the judge or jury finds appropriate.


Have a legal question? Email them to: legalquestions@thebusinessofshowinstitute.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

The foregoing is intended as general information only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship with Mr. Firemark. This information is not a substitute for a private, independent consultation with an attorney selected to advise you after a full investigation of the facts and law relevant to your matter. Neither Mr. Firemark nor The Business of Show Institute will be responsible for readers' detrimental reliance upon the information appearing in this column.

About Gordon P. Firemark:
Gordon Firemark is an attorney whose practice is devoted to the representation of artists, writers, producers and directors in the fields of theater, film, television,and music. He is also the publisher of Entertainment Law Update, a newsletter for artists and professionals in the entertainment industries. His practice also covers intellectual property, cyberspace, new media and business/corporate matters for clients in the entertainment industry.

Mr. Firemark serves on the Boards of Governors of The Los Angeles Stage Alliance (the organization responsible for the annual Ovation Awards for excellence in Theater), and The Academy for New Musical Theatre. In the past he has served on the Board of Governors of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, where he served as liason to the Association's Entertainment Law Section (of which he is a former chairman).

Mr. Firemark holds a B.A. in Radio, Television and Film from the University of Oregon, and earned his law degree at Southwestern University School of Law. Before opening The Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark, Mr. Firemark was a partner with the Business Affairs Group, a boutique entertainment law firm in Los Angeles. He has also worked in the legal and business affairs departments at Hanna Barbera Productions and the MGM/UA Worldwide Television Group, and started his legal career as an associate at Neville L. Johnson & Associates, a West L.A. firm specializing in entertainment litigation.

For more about Mr. Firemark, visit http://firemark.com/.

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Just Give Them What They Ask For

by Daniel Manus

Today's column comes from the "live and learn" files of Hollywood. I recently had a client, who will remain nameless, who had sent her script to an executive, who read it and liked it and asked the writer to come in for a meeting. During that meeting, my client pitched the exec a couple of other projects she was working on and was also pitched BY the executive a couple of projects their company was looking to develop.

This is what normally happens in a pitch meeting. Most production companies have internal story meetings where they come up with and pitch (to each other) story ideas that they may want to develop and find writers to work on. When I was at Clifford Werber Productions, I'd say at least one-third of our projects were self-generated between the two of us. Some were winners, some weren't. But since A-List writers don't write on spec and they usually only pitch their OWN original material – this is where YOU come in!

So, my client was pitched this one idea (which will also remain nameless) and given a few specific (but basic) notes on what they were thinking. It was basically a "reversal" of a concept of a popular movie from years ago (and that is ALL the information you're getting). Now, here's what you need to know about executives – they usually don't really know what they DO want – they just know what they DON'T want.

I had this original project idea at CWP that I had written a 3 page pitch document for which basically had the set up, much of the first act, and premise to the story and characters. We pitched this to tons of writers and had 3 or 4 (over a year's time) come up with a nicely-fleshed out treatment and pitch, but for one reason or another – Clifford didn't like them. They just didn't match with his vision for the project, even though he and I weren’t sure EXACTLY what we wanted that vision to be.

But a good take on our story is like obscenity – we know it when we see it.

Anyway, my client came up with a take on the project and presented it to the executive – but it wasn't right for them. It wasn't what they were looking for. But she was given one more chance. So, she came to me and we re-worked it and re-wrote it (No, I do not take co-writing or story credit), and I thought the idea that resulted from our 3 hour in-person consultation – was pretty damn solid. If it came to ME as an executive, I'd probably be pretty happy with it, though it was only a 4 page pitch and not an extended treatment. There were still many story specifics not worked out.

Unfortunately, once again, the executive did not think it was what they had envisioned. And she's right – it wasn't. In my eyes, it was better. It took the one-line concept they had given my writer and (in my opinion) expanded it, gave a different twist to it, made it more castable, etc. But that's not what the exec wanted.

All too often, writers try to do something totally new and different – when all the executive really wanted was for you to basically regurgitate exactly what they asked you to do but in a more stylized and interesting way. Sometimes this takes great control on behalf of the writer, but it could mean the difference between getting the job and not. If an executive tells you they want a 16 year-old female protagonist, don't change it to a 25 year-old male because you think it's better – just give them what they asked for.

What I tell my writers to do, and what I would have done with this client if we had more time (the meeting was in 2 days), is to come up with at least 4 or 5 different takes on the concept so that if the executive shoots down your first take in the meeting, you have fallbacks and options that you can immediately follow up on and pitch instead. They will be impressed that you gave it so much thought. Perhaps in one, the focus of the story is on a different character, or it's set in a different location, or there's a different catalyst and inciting incident that sets up the story. It's never a good idea to ONLY have one idea.

It was frustrating when I got the call from the executive, who was nice enough to give me a heads up because she is a personal friend of mine (yes, she knew I was working with the writer as a story consultant). She didn’t love the pitch we had come up with - I was honestly very surprised. But it wasn't my place to fight the points she raised - it was my job just to listen, smile and nod and hopefully learn a bit more of what they actually did want. I could have argued, but I didn't want to screw my client over, who was meeting with her the next day. Know your place in whatever situation you're in.

But the phone call I received also illuminated a few things I did not know previously, including how my client had actually been pitched this project THREE months ago and was finally getting back to the exec. Here’s the thing – if an executive tells you they want to hear your take on their project – they want to hear it SOON! Not the same week, of course, but probably about 2-4 weeks later. If you are taking more than 4 weeks to come up with a take, that exec is going to expect much more than a 3 page basic treatment. They will want a fully fleshed out story and characters and probably a 10 pg document.

Also, if it's not an idea that you truly spark to – DON'T force it. I know you all want to make the executives happy and get on their good side and create that relationship. But they will respect you even more if you say "that's a great idea, but I'm honestly not sure it's an idea that's right for me or one I can connect to enough to do a great job." They would rather find something else you both agree on and have a vision for than waste their time hearing a take on something you don't even like.

You need to know the politics and expectations of meeting with executives. You have to respect what they are asking you to deliver, you have to deliver it within an acceptable amount of time, you have to be incredibly prepared, and you have to know when it's not a good fit.

How do you do this? Well, much like my client did, you live and you learn.

**Just a reminder, starting July 1 and for the whole month of July, any BOSI member who orders a notes service at No BullScript, gets a FREE 30 Minute Phone Consultation Follow-up! Check out our services at www.nobullscript.net


About Daniel Manus:
Daniel Manus is an in-demand script consultant and founder of No BullScript Consulting, which can be found at www.nobullscript.net and was ranked one of the Top 15 "Cream of the Crop" Script Consultants by Creative Screenwriting Magazine. He was the Director of Development for Clifford Werber Productions (Cinderella Story, Sydney White) and is attached to produce several projects independently. Daniel was previously a Development Consultant for Eclectic Pictures and DOD at Sandstorm Films, which had a first look deal at Screen Gems. He is the author of the E-Book "No BS for Screenwriters: Advice from the Executive Perspective," and teaches seminars to writers across the country. Raised on Long Island, NY, in an amusingly dysfunctional household, Daniel holds a B.S. degree in Television with a concentration in Screenwriting from the Ithaca College Park School of Communications.

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Best Business Advice for Screenwriters

Lucy Stille – Literary Agent at Paradigm - on her best business advice for screenwriters:

"So often the best people to get in touch with at an agency are the new, hungry people who are reading like crazy and know that their careers are going to be made because of their relationship with some new person that none of us even know exists."

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The Scoggins Report

2011 Spec Market Scorecard as of June 10

by Jason Scoggins & Cindy Kaplan

Don't sweat the subdued sales numbers so far in June - we had to set this month's cutoff a little early thanks to our publishing schedule, and reps sent 15 scripts into the marketplace last week alone in hopes of catching buyers before they check out for the summer. There's no reason to think this month won't end up on par with April and May.

And there's at least one reason to think it will: Paramount made a pre-emptive spec purchase that isn't reflected in the below grids (Bastards , by Justin Malen , for Montecito to produce). The way the sale went down harkens back to 1997: It went wide with no attachments (from Verve and Chris Fenton at H2F) and sold within 24 hours.

Highlights from the below grids include:

  • Columbia added yet another spec sale since the last Scorecard, putting it well ahead of the field. Paramount got on the board for the first time last month and doubled down with the Bastards purchase.
  • UTA and WME are running neck and neck for the lead among sellers, with 8 spec sales each. The two companies are 60% ahead of CAA so far this year, which has 5 sales in 2011.

Here are the numbers for 2011 through June 10:


Overall Spec Numbers1:

All Specs Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
Specs 16 37 33 39 31 18             174
Sales 2 102 15 52 5 1             38
Percent 12.5 27 45.5 12.8 16.1 5.5             21.8

1 This grid tallies sales of scripts in the month they originally went out. All other grids in this report are straight tallies of each month's sales.
2 Does not include the sale of a script that originally went out prior to 2011.



Spec Sales By Genre (sold/totla):

Genre (sales) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total % of 2011
Spec Sales
Action/Adventure 0/2 1/3 0/4 2/9 1/5 0/4             4/27 10.5%
Comedy 0/5 2/12 6/9 1/11 2/12 1/11             15/54 39.5%
Drama 0/0 0/3 0/1 2/6 1/2 0/1             3/13 7.9%
Fantasy 0/0 0/0 0/2 0/1 0/0 0/0             0/3 0%
Horror 0/1 3/4 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0             4/6 10.5%
Western 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0             1/1 2.6%
Sci-Fi 0/2 0/3 2/4 1/2 1/3 0/0             4/14 10.5%
Thriller 1/5 3/10 8/16 1/12 2/9 0/2             15/54 39.5%

Spec Sales By Buyer - Studios:

Buyers (Studios) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total 2010 2009
CBS Films         1               1 0 2
Columbia   1 4     1             6 1 5
Dimension       1                 1 0 1
Disney   1                     1 2 2
DreamWorks   1 1                   2 1 4
Fox     1 1 1               3 2 3
New Line       1                 1 0 0
Paramount         1               1 4 5
Relativity       1 1               2 6 3
Summit     1                   1 3 2
Universal     2 1                 3 2 6
Warner Bros.   2   1 1               4 9 6




Spec Sales By Buyer - Other Buyers::

Buyers (Other) Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total 2010 2009
1984 Films       1                 1 0 0
Animation Picture Co.   1                     1 0 0
Bold Films 1                       1 1 0
Caliber Media     1                   1 1 0
Crime Scene Pictures         1               1 0 0
Dark Castle   1                     1 0 0
Gracie Films     1                   1 0 0
IM Global     1                   1 0 0
Mandate     1                   1 2 1
Montecito     1                   1 0 0
Nasser Ent.     1                   1 1 0
RCR   1                     1 0 0
Route One   1                     1 1 0
Skydance         1               1 0 0
Stone Village Pictures       1                 1 0 0
Ten Thirty-One     1                   1 0 0
Valhalla     1                   1 0 0
Wendy Finerman Prods       1                 1 0 0

Each of the following production companies has been attached to at least one spec sale so far this year. Companies in bold are new since the last scorecard.

Anonymous Content
After Dark
Appian Way
Alliance Films
Automatik Entertainment
Chernin Entertainment
Contrafilm
Davis Entertainment
Disruption Entertainment
Escape Artists
IDW
FilmEngine
Furst Films
Genre Films
Hollywood Gang Productions (2)
Ixtlan
Josephson Entertainment
Katsmith Productions
Leverage Management
Marc Platt Productions
Mandeville Films
Matt Tolmach Productions
Michael De Luca Productions
Original Film
Panay Films
Pearl Street
Platinum Dunes
Radar Pictures
Silver Pictures
Stuber Pictures
Temple Hill
Top Cow
WideAwake
Yorn Company




Spec Sales By Seller - Agencies (sold/total)::

Sellers- Agents Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Overall
Efficiency
APA 1/4 0/4 0/1 1/3 0/1 0/0             2/13   15%
CAA 0/1 3/61 1/1 1/3 1/4 0/2             5/17   29%
Gersh 0/0 3/5 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/2             4/8   50%
ICM 0/2 0/1 3/5 1/4 0/3 0/3             4/18   22%
Innovative 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/2 0/0 0/0             1/2   50%
Paradigm 0/2 1/2 1/2 2/3 0/0 0/0             4/9   44%
The Agency 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/0             1/1   100%
UTA 0/0 0/2 5/6 1/31 2/3 1/1             8/15   53%
Verve 0/2 0/0 0/0 0/1 1/1 0/1             1/5   20%
WME 0/0 2/4 2/5 2/21 3/4 0/2             8/17   47%

1 Includes a script not counted toward the company's 2011 efficiency rating because it originally went out prior to 2011.


Spec Sales By Seller - Management Companies (sold/total):

Sellers - Managers Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Overall
Efficiency
Baumgarten 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0             1/1   100%
Benderspink 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/1 0/1 0/0             1/3   33%
Brillstein 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/11 0/1 0/0             1/2   0%
Caliber 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/1             1/2   50%
Circle of Confusion 0/0 2/41 0/1 0/1 1/5 0/1             2/12   17%
Energy 0/0 0/0 0/0 2/31 0/0 0/0             1/2   50%
Evolution 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0             1/1   100%
FilmEngine 1/1 0/1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0             1/2   50%
Generate 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0             1/1   100%
Gotham 0/1 0/0 0/0 1/01 0/1 0/0             0/1   0%
H2F 0/0 0/0 2/4 0/1 0/1 0/0             2/6   33%
Industry 0/0 0/0 1/2 0/0 2/2 0/0             3/4   75%
Kaplan/Perrone 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/1 0/1 0/1             1/4   25%
Mad Hatter 0/0 1/1 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0             2/2   100%
ROAR 0/0 1/2 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/0             2/3   67%
Silent R 0/0 0/1 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0             1/2   50%
Smart Ent. 0/0 0/0 0/0 1/2 0/0 0/0             1/2   50%
Underground 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0             1/1   100%
Wirehouse 0/0 0/0 1/1 0/0 0/0 0/0             1/1   100%

1 Includes a script not counted toward the company's 2011 efficiency rating because it originally went out prior to 2011.


About The Scoggins Report:
The Scoggins Report is a terribly unscientific analysis of the feature film development business (in particular, spec script and open writing assignment activity) based on information assembled from a variety of public and non-public sources. The numbers in the reports are by no means official statistics and should not be relied upon as such. Past editions of The Scoggins Report can be found in the archives of The Business of Show Institute and now have a beautiful new home on www.thewrap.com.

Details on each person, project and company in the Reports can also be found at www.itsonthegrid.com, a proud division of The Wrap News, Inc. IOTG is a "for us, by us" film industry database, the only place mere mortals can find listings of Hollywood's active open writing and directing assignments... not to mention comprehensive spec market data, active film development information and relevant credits for released movies going back to 1988.

The IOTG Blog has a new home on the site, by the way: www.itsonthegrid.com/news . It includes daily highlights of recent database updates and individual posts on every spec that hits the market. You'll find buttons to subscribe to the blog's feed right where you'd expect them, and you can follow the site's Twitter feed here:http://twitter.com/itsonthegrid.


About Scoggins:
Jason Scoggins recently launched Eureka Canyon Enterprises, a literary management, production and consulting company that represents feature film and TV writers, directors and producers. He also founded and runs www.itsonthegrid.com, the aforementioned database of feature film development information. Jason got his start in the entertainment industry in 1995 as an agent trainee at ICM, which led to stints as a TV Lit Agent at Gersh and Writers & Artists. He left the business (and California) for several years in 2000, returning in 2007 as a partner at Protocol, a literary management and production company. Follow him here: http://twitter.com/itsonthegrid.


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Digging the Well Before You're Thirsty:

Tracking the Movement of Hollywood's Executives

What do you do when a friend gets promoted or moves to a new position? You congratulate them right?

What else might you do? You might send them a card telling them how excited you are for their new position. Later, you might follow up with that person to see how they're settling in. Then, you might send them an interesting article once in a while.

Why would you do this? Because that's how relationships are nurtured and developed. (They're not developed by asking for favors before the relationship has matured)

So we'd like you to help us in congratulating the following executives who have just been promoted or moved positions.

The Business of Show Institute Congratulates the Following Executives in Their New Positions:

Carl Fennessy
CEO, Shine USA

Mark Fennessy
President, Shine Network

Deborah Lincoln
Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications - International, Warner Bros Entertainment

Christine Batista
Senior Vice President, National Partnerships and Publicity, CBS Films

Vlad Wolynetz
President of Production, Cineflix Studios

Oly Obst
Literary Manager, 3 Arts

Marc DeBevoise
Senior Vice President and General Manager, Entertainment Division, CBS Interactive

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Going to the Well for Inspiration

by Sean Hinchey

Creating a screenplay from nothing is a daunting process. We all encounter roadblocks and dead ends when it comes to taking that spark and turning it into a script. How do you go about developing that spark; what can you use as a starting point? Today, you are going to have an opportunity to clean out some desk drawers and find material to use in a screenplay.

Almost every writer has bits and pieces of written material scattered everywhere. It may be in the form of Post-It notes, newspaper article clipping, notebooks filled with scribbles or even typed character outlines. This information could be in neat folders or jammed into a desk drawer. For whatever reason, you've collected this material and now you need to find a way to make it work for you.

Many times when I'm working on a screenplay, I need to find a different hook for one of my characters. It could be anything from they way they talk to an obscure hobby that they are involved with. Whatever the issue is, when I find myself in a rut, I turn to my seemingly endless files of source material.

What you are going to do is simultaneously find the inspiration you are looking for, while cleaning up some of your mess. The first think you have to do is get all of that material and start looking through it. Look at each piece of paper and figure out if it's something that you can use immediately. If it's not, then put it into one of several piles.

For example, I have one folder for characters, another for overall story ideas, another for snippets of dialogue and a final one for everything leftover. This may include cool locations, a neat gadget or a catchy newspaper headline that I may borrow for a scene in one of my scripts. When I flip through these folders, I'm amazed at how much material I've already used in my scripts, even though I may not have been aware that I saved a similar piece of information.

As you are looking through your notes, chances are you won't come across anything that you don't remember. It's kind of like revisiting with an old friend. You may be surprised at how some random scribble of information may just be the key that you are looking for. I found a note that had a funny piece of dialogue on it that I was hoping to use one day in a script. Not only did it work well in a screenplay, but it helped me find a whole new direction for my character. As I utilize the tidbits of information that I've collected in my script, I throw them away. I never want to use the same "gag" twice.

What do you do if you don't have any pile of random notes collected? Start making a collection. As you gather these little scraps, keep them in their original form. Resist the temptation to refine them and rewrite them into one organized place. The reason for this is that the way the note is written can be significant. For example, things I scribble on a Post-It note are usually a one-off piece of information. Notes written on a regular piece of paper are usually more thought out. Newspaper clippings have a great deal of information that probably cannot be condensed any more than it is. I have a general idea of what is on each piece of paper, based on what format the information is presented.

Great tidbits of information can be found everywhere. But before you start casting your net wide and far, start looking closer to home. There's probably something in that cluttered drawer right next to your work space. Great scripts come from great inspiration. That's the key to writing a contest-winning screenplay!

The script is done. You’ve given it a read through and are all set to send it off to the next screenwriting contest. Once it’s in their hands, there’s no going back. As long as the deadline isn’t tomorrow, sit on it for a couple of days, or even a week. Learn why Waiting Can Be A Good Thing.


About Sean Hinchey:
Sean Hinchey has been a script consultant for International Creative Management (ICM), Miracle Entertainment, Nash Entertainment, and Viviano Entertainment. He's also read the preliminary drafts of Michael Crichton's best-selling novels, State of Fear and Next and has performed extensive research for the stage plays and screenplays of writer/director Floyd Mutrux (American Hot Wax, Million Dollar Quartet).

Sean's expertise has made him a highly sought after judge for such prestigious screenwriting contests such as: The Big Break Contest, The Miramax Open Door Contest, Artists and Writer's Contest, Energy Contest, Smart Contest and The Chills and Thrills Contest. Throughout his career, Sean has read over two thousand scripts, giving him an insight into what it takes to become the winner of a screenwriting contest.

Three of Sean's screenplays have been optioned and one was a finalist in the Film in Arizona Screenwriting Competition. He won an award for his first non-fiction book, Backpacking Through Divorce.

Drawing from these experiences, he's written a book, 39 Ways to Win a Screenwriting Contest & The Nine Mistakes New Writers Make, set for publication in Spring 2010.

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More Don'ts And A Harsh Reality...

by Manny Fonseca

Yeah, yeah... more pitchfest shit.

But hey, until you guys stop doing this crap, I'm going to keep cramming it down your throats.

Let's start by talking about the spiel. This is one of those things that drive me fucking crazy. When people sit down and have a routine that they do. Whether it be finishing each other's sentences or some sort of magic show that they put on. Yes, you read me right. One guy at the Great American actually did this thing with ripped up pieces of paper with handwritten words on them. And he told the story while he made shit disappear.

It was bullshit.

But that's what they tell you right? Do something fucktarded to stand out and be memorable. Right?

WRONG!

Yes, you are being remembered, but not for the reasons you want to be.

I know I've already harped on this, but seriously, just sit down and have a conversation with me. That's it. That's the secret to pitching. Just talk to me. Be fucking NORMAL.

I know that's hard for some of you, but try. Please. Try.

Drop the canned bullshit. The more you can "chat" with a person, the easier it is to get that person to be comfortable with you. And hey, guess what? The more they'll listen to you too.

Okay... now on to the next group...

The producers.

Stop doing our job. Just be a fucking writer. The guys that sit down and say: "This will set up a trilogy!" or, "its set in Abbottabad... we can film cheap there! I even got a line on this... um... mansion. Gotta few holes in it, but nothing a lil' spit and shine won't cure."

Gee. Thanks.

Oh yeah. And fuck you. THAT isn't going to be the reason I read your script. One guy I had talked to literally changed all of his bad guys to North Koreans just to make the script more "timely".

It's really insulting.

Stop being a producer and let us do our job. You be the writer. Nothing more, nothing less.

Now, this next part is going to make me seem like a real prick. You know, more than usual, and a lot of you are not going to like it, but it's time someone tell you the truth.

Hollywood is a business. A business based on looks and the thing is... that includes the writers too. IF you have the script of a lifetime, it's our job to take that script and sell it to the studios. The thing is you're part of that package. I have to sell you as much as I have to sell the script and the bottom line is... no one wants to buy a script from a weirdo.

Cheryl talked about this last week... the lady in the Wal-Mart dress. She could have had the next Schindler's List and I NEVER would have been able to sell it.

You want a green Mohawk?

Cool.

But say good bye to your script ever seeing the light of day.

You want to dress like an extra from Sons of Anarchy? More power to you. Kick those fucking squares!

But I'm not taking you to New Line anytime soon.

You can go to every Star Trek convention in the world. You can dress your dog up in Spock ears and fuck the shit of it while wearing a William Shatner mask for all I care. But one whiff of social ineptitude and the dream ends here.

Period.

You know how some people say, don't give up on your dreams? Or don't let anyone tell you you can't make it.

I'm telling you... give it up.

I know you THINK Hollywood is for the weird and has the patience level for all walks of life… but it doesn't. It's just a business through and through. End of story. And people will only buy what they feel safe and comfortable with.

Clean your shit up. Make sure your breath doesn't stink. Cut your fucking hair. Shave. Take out the fucked up piercings, not the cool ones, just the one that slips you into visible freakdom. You want a metal pole through your cock? Cool. I can't see it. Don’t you still feel "original" and weird? Good.

Guys, this is what you can wear: Jeans. Dark wash. Straight leg or boot cut. No skinny jeans. Stuffy Hollywood types can't handle that shit yet. Black or brown shoes or boots OR Chuck Taylors. Clean new ones, not the ratty ones you've had for years. A black, grey or white Tee. V-neck if you want to be a little hip, crew if you just want hip. A black jacket. Do your hair OR a sports cap. Writers are allowed to wear the cap of their favorite team.

Keep the trucker hats, the fedoras, the driving caps and the beanies for the cool kids... actors. You, you get sports. In meetings I'm always in my Detroit Lions hat. Why? Cause it's black and goes with everything, the team sucks so bad that no one is ever caught in a Lions hat (leads to an ice breaker situation) and I actually follow the team. Guys like football. They talk about that shit. I know JUST enough to be able to bullshit my way through any Lions conversation. Puts people at ease.

Ladies, you can get away with almost anything as long as your ass isn't hanging out, your tits aren't about to explode out of your top and you're not showing too much leg. Leave the hippie attire at home. Black slacks or jeans (as long as they are cut properly... leave the "mom jeans" at home) with a nice blouse should be fine. Don't need the jacket, but if you do rock the jacket, take it off before you sit down. Women can STILL get the reputation based on their clothing. I know, it sucks, but these are the facts. Play the game until you're somebody and then you don't have to any more.

Same things goes for you... do the hair, brush your teeth... yaddayadda. You can get away with a fedora if the outfit is put together quite well. My friend Alanna is from New York and totally has her little Greenwich Village sense of style. Totally works for her.

This is business 101.

Need it put in even simpler terms? Fine. I'll keep it to stores.

Guys: Your closet should be filled with anything from J-Crew or the Gap.

Ladies: Banana Republic.

Simple.Easy.

Do NOT dress too formal. Leave the suits for Wall Street. We like the fact that we don't have to dress up and when we're sitting there in our Chuck Taylor's and lightly destructed jeans, it makes us really uncomfortable when you're in a three piece.

I wish I could tell you that things were different, but they're not. This is the way it works. After you write a couple of really successful scripts, you can fucking wear anything you fucking want to. Till then, play the game.

If you don't want to play the game... if you want to swim upstream... fine. Go be a snowflake. But be warned... all you will do is spin your wheels. All of those hopes and dreams that you have? Forget them cause you're never going to make them happen.

Now, on that note... let's shift gears. I'm working on setting up several meetings with agents who are willing to talk to me and be interviewed for the column. Nothing's carved in stone yet, but I want to be able to present them with YOUR questions.

So hear it is... YOUR opportunity to ask an agent how to get an agent. What do they look for? What do they want from you? What will they do for you? How does all of this work? Send me your questions and look for the article in few weeks depending on schedules.

Lastly, the Inktip Pitch Summit is coming up as is the Hollywood Pitchfest... please check them out respectively and please come by and say hi. I'll be at both front and center. And please don't be one of those people above. In the next column I'm going to chat about what do to after a pitchfest and when and how is it cool to follow up. Yes, just cause they agreed to read your script, doesn't mean you're cleared of being a fucktard. You can still royally screw it up.

Till next week...


About Manny Fonseca:
Manny Fonseca hails from Dearborn, Michigan and now lives in the glamorous Hollywood. Always knowing that he wanted something more than a menial job in retail or the auto industry, he attended Ohio University where he received his M.F.A. in screenwriting.

He quickly navigated the industry, landing a job at Kopelson Entertainment where he plays mild-mannered exec by day, constantly looking for the next big script and turns into Screenwriter by night. You can often find his foul, yet honest, opinion at pitchfests around Los Angeles. You can also retain him for script consulting/developing services as well as pitch consulting services.

For info, have a question or just want to tell him you love him, drop an email to weekendread@gmail.com or find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/manny.fonseca

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